For 70 years, religion was suppressed under Communist rule in Russia, which was the largest republic of the Soviet Union. Millions of Christians were imprisoned or died for their faith, and 90 percent of church properties were confiscated by the government or destroyed. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and today, religious freedom in Russia is constitutionally guaranteed.
LCMS World Mission began working in Russia in 1992, and assists in various ways The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (ELCIR), The Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC), and The Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is also known as The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia and Other States (ELKRAS).
LCMS World Relief and Human Care also began work in Russia in the early 1990s, with a grant to the Women's Consultation Center for pro-life counseling and services.
There are currently career missionaries working in Russia involved in theological education and outreach coordination. They lead training sessions throughout Russia and other Eurasian locations, and walk alongside Lutheran churches in the region as their pastors and laypeople explore ways to reach out to their communities with the Gospel. Current LCMS World Mission efforts in Russia also include building up Christian resources, a digital Lutheran library and outreach through music and the arts.
At the 1998 Synod Convention, the LCMS declared itself to be in altar and pulpit fellowship with the ELCIR, making it a sister/partner church. The ELCIR consists of 15,000 members in 80 congregations, and 150 leaders serving as pastors, deacons and deaconesses.
In 2010, after recommendation by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, the Office of the President, in accordance with the synodically-approved process, declared fellowship with the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC), based out of Novosibirsk, Russia. The SELC consists of approximately 21 churches and 20 pastors and deacons.